Very instructive example

If you read this blog at all, you will know my biggest bugaboo is people who say that New Brunswick’s problem is that we are “far from the market” which leads, invariably, to “why would company x ever want to set up here?”

I had this conversation one time by email with a CAW economist. Anyway, needless to say the position of the CAW on the auto industry in Canada is clear. I guess Michelin must be an aberration.

But I digress.

While the world is replete with places like New Brunswick building strong economies, I would like to offer this example.

Now, it may seem odd to be citing the example of Orlando, Florida. After all, there is Disney and all that jazz and not too far away is a large NASA facility. But I like this example.

Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, Inc. recently announced that it will proceed with plans to build a new turbine parts manufacturing facility in Orlando, Fla., which will dramatically enhance its ongoing power generation service and component repair operations.

The new manufacturing operation will be located adjacent to the present MPS Orlando Service Center and will feature new center of excellence capabilities for combustion turbine blade and vane component manufacturing. In addition, to demonstrate Mitsubishi’s commitment to renewable energy technology, the new manufacturing facility will include a state-of-the-art high efficiency photovoltaic solar generating system manufactured by Mitsubishi.

Here’s why I like this example and why it is relevant to New Brunswick.

1. Orlando, Florida is farther from the dominant population centres in the U.S. than New Brunswick. Putting a turbine manufacturing facility there has nothing to do with geography.

2. The NASA operations at Cape Canaveral likely influenced this decision – or at least their original decision to setup there. Lesson? Government R&D or other activities should be leveraged into significant private sector development. The NRC has significant aerospace R&D facilities – where? – right smack in the middle of Montreal’s aerospace cluster.

Question? How many large, multinational ICT firms have set up in Fredericton as a result of their collaboration with the NRC ITT lab in Fredericton? How many e-Learning firms have set up in Moncton as a result of their collaboration with the NRC in Moncton?

I believe a primary – not a secondary – a primary component of the NRC’s mandate should be to attract private sector collaborators – large players with R&D budgets to set up in the communities in which they operate.

3. That’s what I love about the U.S. Industries pop up in the strangest places. Auto in Alabama. Aerospace in Florida. Data centres in Northern Texas. It should give places like New Brunswick hope that they can attract industries themselves.